Feb 20, 2013

Dimasyq - The Moustache Man Whose Name I Never Knew

By Siti Manisah Ngalim


Syrian revolution has been more than a year now. Bombing and killings of civilians all over Syria and that includes Dimasyq or Damsyiq or Damascus. My heart goes to the people of Syria, my brothers and sisters from different mothers. My du'a to them all and the Mujahideen. May Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala give them victory or syahid. Either way, they win, inshaALlah.

As I read through few articles and reports on the Syrian Revolution, I suddenly remembered. And my heart ache for this one person that I wish I knew his name, and that I hope he heard me when I said "Jazakallaahu khair" 5 years ago.

I would like to dedicate this posting to him and his land of Syria. I never forget this incident as it proved to me two things. First, that Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala is able to do anything and everything and that His promise is true. Second, kind hearted human that will do anything for you without even needing to know who you are, still exist out there. You just need to make du'a that Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala make you lucky enough to share the same time and space with them in your lifetime.

Here is to that Dimasyq International Airport attendant/officer/staff (I am not sure of his position) that have helped me through what I can only imagine as the impossible and at the verge of helpless and hopelessness. I will write it as short as possible to focus on the scene where I met this person. Consequently, there will be moments and details that will be ignored.

The Day
Date: A day in the month of May, 2005.

Venue: Check-in counter, Dimasyq International Airport. The check-in counters located inside departure hall after luggage scanned. The door to the departure hall was pulled down. Nobody from the outside could see what was going on in the inside. There were so many people that day. Over crowded I could say.

"Ma'am, your name is not in the list of passengers" the lady at the counter told me after checking my details on the e-ticket.

"I am sorry. I do not know what to say but that is all I have and the ticket is already paid for."

Of course I was shocked at that time and I truly had nothing else to prove that I am supposed to be in that flight back to Dubai.

"I bought the ticket few days ago from a Travel Agent in Latkia. He said my seat is confirmed. Can you please check again?"

"Wait here, ma'am."

The lady went to another counter and conversation happened between her and another lady at that counter. She then waved at me to come over and I did.

"I am sorry ma'am. Your name was not yet confirmed and added in the list. We are going to do that now. If you could wait for a while."

Huh! Alhamdolillah. That is good enough for me. I could wait for however long it takes, so long as I will be in that flight. Sigh.

"Okay, that is done. Could you please bring your luggage to be weighted, ma'am."

I quickly dragged my ... oh so heavy ... luggage and try very hard to put it on the weighting belt. I knew that the luggage must be over the limit but I hope it would not be so much. Perhaps I could be forgiven for a small difference.

"Ma'am, your luggage is too heavy. You have to take out some things."
"How much is it overweight?"
"It is about 10 kg over."
"I am afraid that I could not do that. Everything is important in here."
"I am sorry ma'am. We could not allow this bag to pass through."
"Is there anything I can do?"
"Yes, ma'am. Do you see those two guys over there?" The lady pointed at two men in jumpsuit.

I looked where she pointed.

"Bring your bag to them. They will help you."
"Thank you." I said innocently.

As I approach the two men, I saw a huge green bin standing next to them. As I arrived at where they stood, I suddenly realised that what the lady tried to do was to make me take some stuff off my luggage and dumped them in that huge green bin.

"Huh! What a trick to get rid of me. Ya Rabb. What should I do? I could not dump anything."

My heart beat faster than before and I started to have flashes of stuff in the luggage in my head. I truly could not imagine which one of them that would go first. My heart hurt at the thought of gifts given by the locals that were to be thrown away, just like that. Not that those stuff were expensive, but they were once belonged to poor people. They gave what they had best in their possessions. I have experienced the kindness and the generosity of Syrian people, especially in Jableh, in that trip. I could feel my eyes burnt.

"Oh God, no! Please do not make me cry. Please help me, Ya Rabb!" I said to myself. 

As my fingers hold on to the zipper of the luggage and I started to pull, I suddenly heard a voice.

"Madam! Madam! Laa! Laa!"

I looked around and I saw this tall man in his 30s, neat hair and moustache, tucked stripped shirt and dark pants, ran towards me. Henceforth, the moustache man. He said something in Arabic, but I could not understand a word. I am not sure what he was trying to tell me. Then he came to me and pull the zipper back to its place. He made a hand signal at me saying 'wait' and so I did. I stood next to my luggage and my eyes followed him as he walked to the lady at the check-in counter.

I could hear him talking and saw him pointing at me. But I could not understand a word they said. Not that I could not hear them but I could not understand Arabic that well. The next thing I knew, he waved at me to approach the counter. So I went.

"Ma'am. Your luggage is too heavy. I have told this man that it cannot go through."

"Err...okay." Was all I could say. What should I say? It was not news to me.

They talked to each other for a while. By the tone of his voice, I reckoned that he was begging to the lady. Perhaps to have mercy on me, a woman stranger travelling alone. One thing for sure, I realised that Syrian Muslims have high respect for women. They will protect them even if they were not from their family. I would tell you another story on that, but this is not the entry. I was thinking, maybe that was what the moustache man was doing to me.

"Ma'am. If you cannot take anything off the luggage, you have to pay. Can you pay?" said the lady. From her voice I knew that she did not like the situation nor the conversation with that man a bit.

"Okay." I said.

Not that I did not think of that earlier but I did not really have the cash. I have given away all my dollars to the people in Syria and the last dollars I left them at the house of my host.

"Go to that lady over there and make your payment."

I thought I could just pay for those extra weights, so I went to the other counter that says 'CASH'.

"Oh, no!" I said to myself.

The man followed me to the counter. The lady at the counter greeted me.

"You have to pay 250 US dollars."

"I am sorry, but I do not have that much."

"How much do you have?"

"Only 250 Syrian dollars." I said stupidly. I always laugh at myself whenever I remembered this.

"Ppffffttt...." was all that I heard from the lady. She left me at the counter to I do not know where. I was confused but I understood one thing. I could not make the payment. And they do not accept credit card. I felt hopeless.

I forgot about that moustache man. He was still standing next to the counter when the lady left me there. He must have seen the expression on my face. Again he made a hand signal. Smile never faded from his face though.

He ran back to the check-in counter. First, to the same lady I was dealing with the first time. Then to the lady at the next counter. Lastly to another man in suit. They talked for very long and at times looked at me. The tone of the conversation was at times low and at another high. I wonder what that moustache man was saying to the man in suit. What a poor lady I was then.

After a while, the moustache man waved at me again. He was all smiling and showed a thumb-up at me. What could it be? 

I approached the man in suit.

"Ma'am. We will let your luggage through. You do not have to pay anything."

I was like ... "What?" but it never left my throat. Instead I said thank you few times to him. When I looked back, the moustache man already dragged my back on to the weighting belt and the lady was already printing my boarding pass. I felt that I wanted to cry. If only it was not a public place, I could have prostrate there and then to show my gratefulness to Allah. I was all smiling myself. I stood at the counter while the moustache man talked to the lady happily. And he went away behind the counter to check other luggages that passed through the luggage belt.

The man in suit stood next to me.

"We don't usually do this, ma'am. But this time, we let you go." He said to me seriously. No smile on that face that I could recall.

"Thank you so much. I really do not know what to say."

"Here is your boarding pass ma'am. You may proceed to the waiting room now."

By this time, I was both smiling and almost crying. I just could not say thank you enough to Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala for sending this moustache man to my rescue. I have no idea what he said to any of those staff nor have I any idea what made the man in suit to agree to him. MashaAllah.

I then remembered that Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala promise that anyone that believes in Him and have Taqwa, He will send His rizq from places that he could never imagine. Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala said in the Qur'an:

... Whoever fears Allah, He brings forth a way out for him, 
And provides him (with what he needs) from where he does not even imagine. 

And whoever places his trust in Allah, He is sufficient for him... [At-Talaaq 65: 2-3] 

I am not saying that I am that person but definitely I remembered this is one of His promises to the believers. Subhan Allah wa Alhamdolillah. Even that was not enough.

I quickly walked towards the waiting room and I passed the moustache man who stood on the luggage belt. I approached him and said "Jazakallaahu khair" with a big smile on my face. That is all of Arabic that I could remember at that time. He just smiled and nodded happily.

I walked with so much relief. As I entered the waiting room, nothing occupied my mind other than two things. The mercy of Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala and how I should have asked the moustache man his name. Nothing came out of my lips but the zikruLlah. Nothing I do will be enough to express how thankful I was and how lucky I felt that time. To me it was a miracle. I could not and would never be able to forget the moustache man. He has been in my du'a ever since.

As the Syrian Revolution claims more lives, I make du'a that Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala would save the moustache man. If he was not a Muslim (but I think he is), I ask Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala to give him His hidayah and taufiq to embrace Islam. And if he is already a Muslim, I ask that Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala grant him and his family safety and prosperity in this world and the hereafter. I hope for him that he could see the freedom of his beloved country or he would have claimed his place in Jannatul Firdaus from being a syahid. Ameen Ya Rabbi. 

I'd love to hear your views on this experience. Please post in the comments section below! :)


Asalamu alykum wAwb :)

Awwww beautiful story! Beautiful. May Allah (swt) reward him and grant him all good..I loved reading this post! :)

Jazakillaahu khair :) . Please make du'a for him and his family.

Sister the ayahs your quoted are from Surah Talaaq, not tawbah.

Jazakillahu khair. Yes, it is at-Talaaq instead.

Jazakillaahu khair. Yes, it is at-Talaa instead :)


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